Killing Zone, The (1991)

The most important thing you need to know about The Killing Zone is that it contains arm-wrestling. That’s when grown men grasp hands to prove whose arm is stronger and therefore, whose cock is more formidable.

The second most important thing is that The Killing Zone stars Deron McBee, better known as Malibu from American Gladiator. That’s the show where average men and women challenge beefy gladiators to handball, tug of war, and the one where you fight with giant Q-tips. I used to watch American Gladiators because I couldn’t wrestle the remote away from the gladiator I call my brother. Clearly the gladiators were doping and had unfair advantages over the contestants, but that’s what makes good television. The public wants to see a P.E. teacher from Sioux Falls get pummeled by foam missiles. All the gladiators had great names: Nitro, Turbo, Laser, Zap, Blaze, Thunder. Malibu got his name because he had a long blonde mane, tan biceps, and gleaming teeth. (Remember, the trick to whiter teeth is a tan face. Try it at home.) I can imagine Malibu running across Zuma Beach, his golden locks shimmering in the sunshine. I can see him settling in his bungalow kitchen, tossing his tresses behind his shoulder as he sips on his weight gainer shake.

Garret (Malibu) is working on a chain gang, swinging a pick axe. He is so ripped that he can’t button his jeans. It’s a thing that happens, apparently. Garret brawls with another inmate over something that can only be resolved with physical violence. This fight is supposed to establish Garret’s character as a badass who takes and gives no shit. But the scene is unnecessary because Garret’s mullet tells you everything you need to know about Garret. But I know what you’re thinking: Is Malibu’s mullet better than Sam’s in High Kicks? That’s a difficult question, one I’m unwilling to answer because I don’t want to take sides. All mullets are special in their own way. But just know that Malibu’s is fuller and more leonine than Sam’s, but not as long.

Somewhere in a prison cell, Pablo Vasquez gets a shiv in his gut. And now, “The shit’s gonna hit the fan.” Cut to Mexico City where there’s a guy at a desk. There is a ceramic cat. The exterior shot of the building is actually five miles from where I grew up. I did not grow up in Mexico City. Carmen Vasquez, the leader of a ruthless drug cartel, is pissed because his brother is dead. He goes on a rampage and brings terror to the streets of the greater Los Angeles area, spraying bullets and hassling innocent citizens. The authorities are worried — Carmen is “turning the city into a killing zone!” I love it when people say the movie title in the movie itself. No one does that anymore. It’s a lost art, along with basket weaving and fife playing.

A DEA agent springs Malibu from his prison sentence so he can help bring Carmen to justice. Malibu goes home to surprise Sam, his beloved uncle. Sam limps because Carmen had thrown him off a cliff long ago. There are some hugs, but before they can really celebrate, Malibu must go meet his girlfriend in the shower. It’s Melissa Moore from Samurai Cop! The homecoming party is festive, with plenty of beer and arm-wrestling. Arm-wrestling is also a lost art.

I really wanted to love The Killing Zone — it has everything I want out of a trash action romp: a jacked-up dude with a mullet, Mexican stereotypes, an RV in the middle of a desert, a reference to Qaddafi, and a plot point that requires people to split up, just like in Scooby Doo. But the pacing is uneven. There are grueling scenes of people talking, mundane set-up, slow patches, and more people talking. Malibu doesn’t even get into the action until 40 minutes into the movie. But when The Killing Zone is good, it’s great. There are exploding cars, slow-motion leg sweeps, and a bodyguard who doesn’t talk because he got his tongue cut out. He looks like John Oates. And of course, there’s Malibu arm-wrestling some drunk sap whose arm (and therefore cock) will never, ever measure up. Malibu claims he did not take steroids and used a combination of prayer and faith to bulk up. This does explain why Jesus was so ripped. But I bet you Jesus never tipped his shades and winked right at the camera.

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